Fan-made credits for AMC's zombie drama 'The Walking Dead' go viral; we talk to the creator
Zombie lovers, comic book fans, and self-respecting geeks everywhere are eagerly anticipating the Halloween premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead, a TV series adaptation of the critically acclaimed comic book series of the same name by writer Robert Kirkman about survivors of a zombie plague. In fact, Daniel Kanemoto is so ready to be a fan of the drama (led by Oscar-nominated director Frank Darabont) that he took it upon himself to create a credit sequence for the series—and in turn has gained some fans himself. Since Kanemoto posted the credits on Sept. 24, he’s received Tweets of appreciation from the likes of Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof and sci-fi author/BoingBoing blogger Cory Doctorow. (You see it here at Daniel’s website.) Even if you have no intention of watching The Walking Dead, you can surely appreciate the creativity of Kanemoto’s work, which was made using artwork from the comic by Charlie Aldard and Tony Moore. We thought it was pretty damn cool, too, so we tracked down Kanemoto this weekend and asked him about the response via email.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you do it?
DANIEL KANEMOTO: I’m obviously a big admirer of everyone involved with The Walking Dead, from Frank Darabont to Robert Kirkman, and I’ve been following the development of the show since it was first announced. I also love everything about filmmaking, and I’ve always paid close attention to title sequences, because I’ve always wanted to direct one of my own. So The Walking Dead felt like a perfect fit for a spec project, considering the source material was already teeming with disturbingly brilliant imagery. But most importantly, I made this to get noticed. I’ve been working in film and television for over a decade (all my other shorts are online at www.exmortisfilms.com), either for various companies or for myself, and in that time I’ve watched in awe as the Internet exploded into the world’s most amazing, never-ending film festival. I’ve always wanted to take advantage of this resource to prove I can direct, and my ultimate goal has always been to get enough attention to help get my next project off the ground. Or get hired to help make somebody else’s project even more awesome.
How did you do it?
My inspiration came directly from the pages of The Walking Dead. I took my trade paperbacks off the shelf and stuck Post-It notes on the panels that I liked the most — and then I had to do something completely against my collector-driven lifestyle, which was rip up my comics and scan the individual pages into my computer. I opened the artwork in Photoshop and started expanding it into different layers. The concept behind my approach was to take the stark, black-and-white artwork from the comic and add even more depth using an animated camera that would sweep in-and-out of some of the early moments in the series. The tank scene was something I really wanted to highlight, since it played such a prominent role in the teaser trailer (and it looks exactly like what I imagined it would look like, thanks to Frank Darabont and his talented cast and crew). For timing, I selected a song by the Eels called “Fresh Blood” and my talented editor, Jeff Yorkes, cut it down to size. All the animation was executed in AfterEffects, in high-def, which made my poor computer have a heart attack.
How long did it take?
A few weeks, in my home studio, whenever I had a spare moment. Thankfully I’m a night owl, so I was able to power through and finish this as fast as possible, considering the show is premiering just over a month. I usually operate on a “one for them, one for me” schedule, so this was definitely “one for me.” But hopefully this will get me enough attention that I can book some more directing gigs.
Have you heard from Robert Kirkman or Frank Darabont or AMC about the work?
I haven’t, but I imagine they’re both insanely busy working on the show and whatever other projects they have in development. But Frank Darabont has been incredibly supportive of my work in the past. He really liked a film I made back at [New York University] called A Letter From The Western Front that won me the Student Academy Award, and did his best to show it around town, so I’ll always be incredibly grateful. Frank’s always been a huge inspiration — I still keep dog-eared copies of his screenplays on my bookshelf. They remain my favorite writing resource when I’m banging out my own scripts.
What do you make of the fan reaction?
I’m thrilled. Thanks to Damon Lindelof (and Cory Doctorow over at BoingBoing and the countless other enthusiastic fans who have blogged and Tweeted), more people have seen my work in a 24 hour period than have watched my movies at all the film festivals I’ve been to in the past decade. Which is absolutely mind boggling. I’d like everyone to know how much I appreciate their support, and I can’t wait to do it again.